Whilst much of the early praise in League One was being saved for Portsmouth and Peterborough, another side were steadily building and growing just below them.
Even as a relegated Championship team, Barnsley have slipped under the radar a little as Sunderland take all of the easy media stories about bouncing back. The Tykes, unlucky to drop out of the second tier last season, have largely been left alone.
When stories are written they’re usually about centre half Liam Lindsay, growing in confidence at the back, or striker Kieffer Moore. Easy stories, easy soundbites.
Scratching the surface though, Barnsley are far more than a couple of good players and a side relegated last season. They’ve been transformed under Daniel Stendel, a manager who claimed he wanted to play Jurgen Klopp football in the summer. Some observers felt he might not have the players nor the credentials to do it in League One. Some observers, were wrong.
Recently his side have been scoring for fun, whether it is hammering Peterborough 4-0 or battling to a hard-fought 3-2 win against Luton. They fight when they need to, they play nice football when they can. They’re tucked in behind the front two but as the players learn the method and understand the philosophy better, they’ll improve.
That should terrify the rest of the division after seeing their recent results. It is easy to look at Moore and see the goals, but even losing Tom Bradshaw pre-season didn’t throw them off their stride. Brad Potts has been fantastic for them, creative and dangerous to boot and they’ll be hoping the scouts don’t come sniffing in the winter window.
Then there’s former Leeds man Alex Mowatt. He was farmed out on loan last season, seemingly at the end of his Oakwell career, but he’s come back into the side and been a revelation. The disjointed Morais reign is well and truly over and yet there’s not been wholesale revolution.
Ethan Pinnock is fast becoming regarded as one of the finest defenders outside the top two divisions whilst George Moncur looks to have grown up quickly as a footballer this season. He is another of those attacking midfield players looking to make the grade in this division, much the same as Bardley Dack before him.
Even 20-year old Jacob Brown is impressing, the former academy player with two goals in his last three appearances. Tom who?
They have a game in hand of the two sides above them, giving them the potential to overtake Posh and narrow the gap between themselves and Pompey to one point. Their next four matches are all against sides outside the top six too. There’s every chance that by the time kids are knocking on doors trick or treating, Barnsley will have put the frighteners on League one by overtaking Portsmouth.
The Tykes are growing with every performance, looking more organised and capable of sustaining a solid top two challenge. Are the likes of Peterborough up to keeping pace? Or will it be another season where at least one, if not two of the relegated sides make the immediate return to the Championship?